September 17, 2021

Texas Senate passes major voting policy overhaul

In the latest twist to an ongoing saga that has captured the attention of the nation, the Texas Senate advanced a Republican-backed election integrity and reform bill in the wake of a 15-hour Democrat lawmaker’s filibuster launched in an attempt to once again halt its progress, according to The Hill.

The bill’s path forward in the Texas House of Representatives, however, remains unclear due to the continued refusal of a large number of Democrats to appear at the legislative session and create the conditions necessary for a quorum, as NBC News noted.

Though it is already known that Democrats lack sufficient votes to prevent passage of the bill they claim amounts to voter suppression, they have continued to engage in activities designed to delay or thwart its success, with over 50 legislators from that party fleeing the Lone Star State back in July for Washington, D.C., where they advocated for federal laws they hoped might negate any actions ultimately taken in Texas.

According to The Hill, the version that advanced in the Texas Senate on Thursday by a party-line vote of 18-11 was considered to be less restrictive than earlier incarnations of the legislation, but it does include key measures such as a ban on drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and mandatory training for poll watchers working at voting sites.

While Republicans in the Texas Senate had no difficulty overcoming the filibuster attempt, focus now turns to the House and whether and when a quorum will be reached and the inevitable passage of the bill will be secured.

As noted by The Hill, earlier this week, Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan signed arrest warrants for the recalcitrant Democrats who sought refuge in D.C. and refused to appear for the legislative session.

Phelan’s spokesperson, Enrique Marquez, explained, “Earlier today the House Sergeant-at-Arms deputized members of Texas law enforcement to assist in the House’s efforts to compel a quorum. That process will begin in earnest immediately,” according to the Associated Press.

A number of the runaway Democrats have filed court petitions seeking protection against a forced return to legislative session, but on Thursday, the state’s highest court blocked such orders, paving the way for a compelled quorum, as KHOU in Houston reported.

Echoing the sentiments of countless Texans, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott declared, “The Dems have filed some of the most embarrassing lawsuits ever seen. Time for them to get to the Capitol and do the job they were elected to do.”

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